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Wednesday, June 17th: Tawny Chatmon

Tawny Chatmon

Today is Wednesday, June 16th

Rag & Bone Bindery is open for business

(read our post from Wednesday, March 25th for more information about how we're able to remain open for business)

Hello, everyone! Today we will be looking at the gorgeous mixed media photography of artist Tawny Chatmon. Chatmon’s work is rooted in her belief that it is memory that shapes a person, and her sense of duty as an artist to create the celebratory images “of Black hair, tradition, and culture” that will become positive memories for her children and that will shape the world she wants them “to thrive in”. Her portraits may be inspired by her own children and other children close to her, but Chatmon states that her art practice is driven by a desire to celebrate the beauty of all Black childhood.

Chatmon describes herself as a “photography based artist”. After completing a portrait session, she moves on to digitally manipulate the photograph, “often lending to [the children] the eyes of someone their elder and more wise and almost always exaggerating their hair and features in a celebratory way”. Sometimes she will then overlay antique patterns or hand drawn digital illustration, finishing the piece by painting intricate gold ornamentation directly onto the physical print of the photograph. This final technique, she writes, was inspired by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s “Golden Phase”. Chatmon also writes that she chooses “to frame [her] work in gold vintage, antique, and contemporary baroque style frames… the majority that previously held artwork of subjects that looked nothing like [hers] or reminiscent of frames hanging in museums of the past and present”. By intentionally placing aesthetic nods to “Western” museum pieces into her own work, Chatmon seeks to “bring to the forefront faces that were often under-celebrated in this style of work,” and intends for her portraits to “act as a counter-narrative and redemptive measure”.

You can follow her on Instagram, @tawnychatmon, to keep up with her ever-growing portfolio, and read more about her work, past and present, on her website,